Balance of trade improves as imports fall by €1.2bn, says CSO


THE TRADE surplus rose by 44 per cent on the month in May, to reach €3.8 billion, new data from the Central Statistics Office showed yesterday.

The rise was due to a fall in imports rather than higher export receipts.

Seasonally adjusted imports declined by 24 per cent or €1.2 billion, between April and May. Exports remained static for the month.

In the first four months of the year, exports rose by 8 per cent, to €31.2 billion, compared to a year earlier. This was driven by a 17 per cent rise in exports of medical and pharmaceutical products, and a 14 per cent increase in exports of organic chemicals.

Exports to the US showed a 17 per cent, or €1.07 billion, rise over the four-month period, while France imported 18 per cent more Irish goods, or €276 million. Exports to Switzerland were up 25 per cent, or €258 million.

This was partially offset by a 5 per cent drop in exports to Belgium, and a 19 per cent fall in goods sent to Spain.

Imports were 13 per cent higher in the four-month period, rising to €17.3 billion. This was accounted for by imports of transport equipment, which rose by 27 per cent or €401 million.

Petroleum imports were up 24 per cent, while medical and pharmaceutical imports were 22 per cent, or €251 million, higher.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton welcomed the trade figures.

“Today’s figures, the latest in a growing body of evidence of high levels of performance in manufacturing and exports, show that an export-led recovery is becoming a real possibility.

“This is particularly welcome at a time when we are receiving mixed news about the global economy,” he said.

“We must also ensure that our indigenous companies continue to increase their exports.

Bloxham chief economist Alan McQuaid said the figures were “much better than expected”.